Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 18, 2021)
Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could keep Bruce Willis from yet another direct-to-video movie! As proof, 2021’s Cosmic Sin sits in my Blu-ray player, though apparently production wrapped pre-lockdown, so maybe Bruce isn't the iron man I believe.
In 2031, humans colonize Mars, and this leads to greater expansion into other realms. By 2524, people live on a slew of planets.
After a “first contact” encounter with an alien species goes poorly, disgraced General James Ford (Willis) gets called back into duty. Along with General Eron Ryle (Frank Grillo) and top-notch soldiers, Ford works to avert a potential interstellar conflict.
In nothing else, Sin offers a project with greater ambition than one would expect from a presumably inexpensive affair. While I couldn’t locate the movie’s budget, I’ll assume it falls into the “not much” category.
It also appears a large chunk of the money went to Willis. Apparently he worked a mere day on the film and got a nice payday for that brief stint.
Alas, I suspect Willis’s salary sucked the budget dry, as the film’s execution can’t live up to its aspirations. Most of the movie seems to focus on characters in bland soundstage settings, so we don’t get much of the “cosmic” aspect of the title.
Oh, the occasional space-related element occurs, but we don’t find much in that regard. Instead, Sin often feels like a flick tethered to its sets.
I don’t think it’s entirely fair to come down on a low-budget movie for its limitations, though – well, unless the results seem so amateurish that the film suffers. That doesn’t happen here, as the flick’s production values seem competent – not good, but acceptable and not a real weakness.
Unfortunately, those passable production values become the only semi-positive I can find here. Not much else about Sin works.
When I last saw writer/director Edward Drake, he helmed 2020’s Broil. Like Sin, Broil came with the bones of a quality movie. Like Sin, Broil turned into an incoherent mess.
I know nothing of Drake’s politics, but based on Sin, I would assume he leans toward the Trump side of the aisle. Much of the movie plays as a love letter to the sort of xenophobic casual fascism endorsed by the former president and his followers.
I really do try to keep my own politics out of my reviews, but when confronted with a flick such as Sin, it becomes impossible. Not only does the movie advocate a “shoot first and ask questions later” approach to the arrival of aliens, but also it often tells us that military leaders know best and politicians should get out of their way.
Cripes, Drake even has the audacity to name the civilization’s most devastating weapon a “Q Bomb”. Is it a stretch to believe this acts as Drake’s wink toward the insane QAnon loonies? Maybe, but given the film’s overall POV, it fits.
Of course, Sin openly rips off other sci-fi movies. Indeed, it comes with so many obvious influences that I won’t even bother to name them, as my hard drive couldn’t hold a file that large.
For so much money across so little time, you’d think Willis would muster a pulse. Instead, he sleepwalks through his cliché role and never seems remotely engaged.
Unfortunately, that’s usually par for the course in terms of Willis’s performances these days. As implied at the start, Willis never met a paycheck he wouldn’t accept, and he rarely bothers to do more than scowl and play the “Bruce Willis Character”.
I might mind this less if someone gave Willis tweezers. The man enjoys life as a wealthy movie star and he can’t bother to pluck his out-of-control eyebrows?
At least those stray hairs occasionally distracted me from the awful film I watched. Cosmic Sin probably isn’t the worst of Bruce Willis’s direct to video affairs, but it nonetheless winds up as a weak cinematic experience.